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Neil Johnson Fertility Specialist and President of the World Endometriosis Society

Neil Johnson 

I was torn between a career in medicine or in football, but had always been keen to follow my older brother who left home to study medicine nine years earlier than me. It was a good thing that I chose medicine as I wasn't quite good enough at football (although I did end up captaining the Newcastle Medicals Football Club!).

After qualifying in medicine, I completed a GP training scheme in England, but was always drawn to obstetrics and gynaecology as the miracle of childbirth fascinated me. As a final year medical student, I was required to undertake eight births for women who I'd followed through their labour. I was spellbound by the incredible emotion involved in having a baby and becoming a new parent that I was honoured to see as a medical student.

After becoming a consultant obstetrician gynaecologist, I was drawn towards Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility - known as REI which involves a higher three-year training programme, to become a Certified REI Subspecialist - because it combines interesting medicine, challenging surgery, a motivated patient group and - hopefully - an outcome that is truly unparalleled, a new human life that otherwise wouldn't have happened.

I've been a Fertility Specialist with Repromed from the word go, supporting Guy Gudex for 10 years in his endeavors as the driving force behind Repromed Auckland - although I’ve kept busy with other activities as well. Recently I relinquished my commitment through the public system with Auckland District Health Board, and this has allowed me to focus purely on my clinics at Repromed and Auckland Gynaecology Group. Repromed is now providing some of the public health system fertility services, which has been tremendously successful, so it is again my privilege to be involved in publicly funded health care.

My enthusiasm for providing fertility treatment to our Repromed patients has lost none of the excitement with which I started out in this field. It still feels like a remarkable privilege to be able to help each patient on their fertility journey. I've developed experience and expertise in managing all the complexities affecting women with endometriosis, including the most difficult cases. I've been fortunate to have stumbled on some breakthroughs in my research, most notably the remarkable fertility benefit of Lipiodol uterine bathing and tubal flushing for women with endometriosis. Lipiodol uterine bathing is transformational for the fertility of women with a history of endometriosis. Its main use is in improving the chance of women becoming pregnant naturally - Lipiodol improves fertility approximately four-fold, a remarkable benefit that we rarely see from any intervention, let alone a simple, low invasive, cost-effective intervention. What is becoming completely clear is that precision medicine for women with endometriosis is the key to optimising outcomes for women.

I was recently given the role of President of the World Endometriosis Society which is a great honour (and surprise!). I'll continue in this global role until May 2020. It was my involvement on the board of Endometriosis New Zealand, which I've been fortunate to serve for over a decade, my research on lipiodol, as well as my enthusiasm for coordinating evidence-based endometriosis guidelines that persuaded my colleagues representing the World Endometriosis Society that I might make a good job of being President of the Society. I've developed experience and expertise in managing all the complexities affecting women with endometriosis, including the most difficult cases.

I've been blown away by some of the successes I've seen over the years - but equally the way that my patients have dealt with the disappointment of treatment that has not been successful. This has been brought home to me in recent years. We have the joy of a wonderful blended family and three amazing teenagers, but my wife and I have suffered the tragedy of pregnancy losses, life threatening complications for my wife and - so far at least - unsuccessful fertility treatment. We remain hopeful, but serious pregnancy loss complications have left us personally needing surrogacy and probably also egg donation. However this personal journey, one which neither of us had expected to take, has given me a new level of insight into the journeys of my patients and the almost unfathomable challenges they face.

Repromed provides highly personalized fertility care for all, and offer a free 15 minute phone consultation with a fertility specialist. Call 0800 483 105 or email info@repromed.co.nz